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AG News: Tuesday - 7/14/2009

What Else Does Radio's Audience Do?

We've recently read that Interpublic's Magna Group has adjusted its forecast for local radio revenues to a loss of 21.8% in 2009. It's a sobering thought that shows the radio industry is still not adequately responding to its new environment. The items needing attention within the industry are so diverse and, at times, complex. The opportunities, though, are equally diverse and complex.

Whatever it is that radio needs to do, the industry will not turn on a dime. Yet we've seen no indication that any radio industry CEO is making adjustments to real-world competition. They choose to recite instead what's growing to be a tired old mantra of "we're near/at/seeing/have past the bottom and expect recovery to be slow." It's not good enough.

Now, we could turn to rehashing methods of moving into today that have been written about at Audio Graphics many times. If you want to catch up on those, check these pages discussing "5 Action Items for Radio," "How Radio Builds Irrelevance," and "Radio Owners Need to Admit to Poor Quality Ads."

But, I thought today's time would be better spent if you were to see examples of what is drawing so much of youth's attention. There's more to be learned by laughing for the remainder of your time spent here than if we discuss this continuing - inevitable - slide downward that radio's found itself in.

I say "more to be learned" because what follows are examples of content that are found on the internet. These short clips all have exploding audiences. Each YouTube video is outside of what old-school radio broadcasters consider a proper alignment of programs, i.e., a jock playing songs for six-hour shifts, voice-tracking, or stale topics regurgitated on talk radio stations by host and audience.

The first two of these are songs sent to me, one via email, the other by Skype, with a note of "look at this." That's true viral exposure.

Of more importance is that the content of each reflects a talent speaking about relative issues for the particular audience they are being virally exposed to. That they are funny means they are entertaining. (When's the last time people in your town spoke about the content of your radio station, or suggested to a friend that they tune in?)

OK, it's time to laugh. First try Bo Burnham and his song "New Math." Over 4 million YouTube visitors already have.

This is from Dave Carroll, a United Airlines customer who was not impressed with its customer service after having his $3,500 guitar broken by luggage handlers. 2.7 million views of this have already happened.

Finally, view new Geek heart-throb John Hodgman at this year's Radio and Television Correspondents' Dinner. He'll get you laughing by closely tying the President to Geekdom. Although the most famous of this trio, Hodgman video views are only at 413,697 as of this writing. Expect this to grow, though.

There are mentions of the number of viewers who have tuned into each of the above because it helps demonstrate what is happening to the radio audience. Their attention is being turned elsewhere with free, instant, easily-found content that is suggested to them by a friend, co-worker, family member, or something online. Chuckle over this table which shows the total time spent viewing each of these:

Artist Video Length Total Views Total Minutes Hours Days Weeks Months Years
John Hodgman 14 minutes 413,697 5,791,758 96,529 4,022 574.5 143.6 11.9
David Carrol 4:36 4,00,000 17,440,000 290,666 12,111 1730.1 144.1 12
Bo Burnham 4:07 2,700,00 10,800,000 180,000 7,500 1071.4 89.2 7.4

Just to keep the giggle going, realize that these are only three of millions of videos, music, articles, and lifestyle interests available online.

The radio industry needs to give considerable thought to ways of keeping its audiences' attention, which is a thought to sober up any leftover laughter. And here's another. On January 12, 2009, I penned these words: "Radio is faced with a forecasted 13% drop in 2009 revenue. My bet is you can increase that to 17%, easily, and possibly hit 20% if some changes aren't made immediately."

Be ready to have your attention shifted, shortly, as more of the radio industry analysts, like Interpublic's Magna Group, start adjusting their earlier projections downward, beyond a 20% drop in revenue. "Immediately" just doesn't seem to be a speed that's easily reached in radio.

From: Maynard Meyer

'Magna Group has adjusted its forecast for local radio revenues to a loss of 21.8% in 2009.' Don't these people know that they will get exactly what they expect?? What kind of attitude is this? It's nice they set the bar so low for themselves!

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Ken Dardis
Online Since January 1997

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